We regret to report that Martin Elis Bee of 73(C) Entry , passed away on the 21st May 2023.
Martin flew Hunters (74 Sqn), Lightnings (remaining in 74 Sqn and flew in its Lightning Aerobatic Team at Farnborough)
and, later still, the U2.
Martin was one of the RAF U-2 pilots assigned to the CIA’s Detachment G at Edwards North Base from 1964 to 1969. In his five-year tour, 1964-1969, Martin was possibly unique in having flown both the J57 and J75-powered original U-2 models, plus the refuellable and carrier-capable versions, plus the enlarged version eg the U-2A, U-2C, U-2F, U-2G and U-2R.
Mike Graydon: “On return he attended the Staff College before commanding 56 Sqn in Cyprus. He was thereafter in the postings and career department of MOD and looked set for a Station Command when he decided to leave the Service to pursue a career in civil aviation. First with Laker and, when that folded, he joined the Sultan of Oman’s Royal Flight. From there he moved to Dubai and was a personal pilot to the members of the Royal Family for many years.
He returned to UK eventually and attended many events at the RAF Club suggesting that his time in the Service meant much to him despite his successful career in civil aviation.”
Tony Bagnall: “ Martin was my second flight commander during my first extended tour on 111 Sqn. He and Lilleba were very welcoming to Pam and myself. Martin was an exceptional fighter pilot. Always ahead of the game and the challenges which the Lightning offered in those days. They were warm and generous hosts; and they had lost none of this in later life when we stayed with them in Croydon.
He is someone who helped shape my life”
Chris Coville: “I instructed him on his Lightning Refresher Course, but learned more from him than he did from me.
A great character, who with his wife were always at the forefront of the RAF's social life”.
Tim Elworthy: “ Martin Bee was a most admired and popular CO of 56 Squadron at Akrotiri from 1971-74.
His aura of competence and relaxed authority served him well and his erstwhile fellow squadron members, during his time as CO, commemorate his leadership annually.
Many joined his Norwegian wife Lilleba and daughter Anniken as he was laid to rest in a woodland burial near Guildford on 16th June.”